Who should buy
We recommend the Adidas Spezial as an excellent choice for:
- Sneakerheads looking for a reliable and retro blast from the past
- Those with a preference for minimalist sneakers
- Anyone after a comfy and versatile shoe that can tackle long walks and gym days
- Thrifty shoppers in the market for a long-lasting and high-quality shoe from Adidas that won’t break the bank
- Fashionistas looking for a neutral shoe that will fit most outfits and comes in many color options
- Elvis types who can’t lay off the blue suede shoes
Who should NOT but
The Spezial is a little snug and not the best choice for those with broad feet. Instead, we suggest checking out the roomier New Balance 574.
While it looks incredibly cool, the Spezial is hard to keep clean. For another versatile sneaker that can be paired with most looks and also comes in various colorways, we recommend the New Balance 480 which is much easier to keep spotless.
To see how well-ventilated the Spezial is, we pumped the shoe full of smoke in order to see how easily it escapes. As we can clearly see from the footage, smoke immediately billows out, though this is localized to the shoe’s tongue which acts as a sort of chimney while the rest of the shoe remains well-insulated. This is no surprise for a suede shoe and, on balance, leads us to give the Spezial a breathability score of 3 out of 5. This means that it should be comfortable all year round, though it will certainly feel a little toasty come summertime.
As a counterpoint, check out the Reebok Classic Leather that scored an abysmal 1 out of 5 in this test.
Using our little blowtorch, we gave different sections of the Spezial the creme brulee treatment to test whether or not they are genuine. The suede upper proved to be real as it merely got scorched by the flame, with its ashy residue easily scraped off. Both the outer and inner overlays, on the other hand, are clearly synthetic based on how they combust into flames and melt onto our awl.
To see just how tough the Spezial is, we fired up our Dremel to 5K RPM and applied it to the toebox with 3.2N of force which immediately casts up a flurry of suede.
While our tool’s abrasive element did do some damage over the course of the four-second test, the result isn’t nearly as devastating as the footage implies. With only a smoothed-out area of suede at the point of contact, the Spezial earns an excellent toebox durability score of 4 out of 5.
Heel padding durability
Next, we set upon the Spezial’s heel counter with our Dremel under the same parameters as the former test. We again see a fiery start, with chunks of the synthetic lining material being cast aside followed by some shreds of padding.
However, once the four seconds were up we found that we had barely done any damage whatsoever; merely piercing a slit in the lining while leaving much of the padding within intact. This earns the Spezial another impressive 4 out of 5 for heel padding durability and gives us a good impression of the quality of the materials and construction of this shoe, which could foreseeably go years before being worn enough to retire.
The Spezial boasts a harder-than-average outsole that gives us a durometer reading of 87 HC. This usually denotes a healthy balance of grip and durability, the former of which is undeniable upon first wearing the shoe while the latter will be tested in the next section.
We fired up the Dremel one last time, this time spinning at 10K RPM, and pressed it against the Spezial’s outsole. This seems to have little effect on the shoe, with our tool’s grinding element impotently skating off the outsole rubber.
After twenty seconds, we used a tire tread gauge to assess the damage and found that we had only lopped off 0.53 mm of material from the outsole. This is less than half of what the average sneaker loses in this same test. One thing’s for certain, the Spezial can take a hell of a beating for miles on end before being forcibly pulled out of circulation.
At 5.3 mm thick according to our caliper measurements, the Spezial’s outsole is just shy of our current lab average. This is more than enough rubber to give us no cause for concern regarding the longevity of the outsole.
The Spezial is quite a bit lighter than average, weighing in at only 12.2 oz (344g).
As such, the shoe feels easy on the foot and doesn’t weigh us down throughout our day-to-day activities. It’s also nimble enough to comfortably take on gym days and other fitness activities.
|Spezial||12.13 oz (344g)|
|Average||14.46 oz (410g)|
The Spezial is an old-school low-profile kick that’s only 25.1 mm high at the heel based on our caliper measurements.
This is shorter than average and gives us a good sense of the ground below while still providing adequate impact-dampening courtesy of the cutout sections of the outsole rubber.
These portions allow the outsole to compress under our weight which, in turn, serves to cushion our landings as we walk.
Moving up to the forefoot, we found the Spezial’s stack to be significantly shorter than average at only 10.7 mm thick according to our caliper.
This is very close to the ground which gives us an extremely well-planted and stable sensation in the shoe.
The difference in our stack measurements leaves the Spezial with a drop height of 14.4 mm. This is steeper than average which means that the heel is significantly elevated compared to the rest of the foot. There is no real right or wrong when it comes to heel drops and sneakers, only a matter of personal preference.
At 5.5 mm according to our caliper, the Spezial’s insole isn’t quite as thick as our current lab average but still provides an adequately soft platform within the shoe.
Lateral stability test
Low-stacked shoes tend to feel very stable and the Spezial is no exception. This old-school kick had us feeling well-planted, nimble, and ready for anything
We were faced with almost no resistance as we bent and wrung the shoe in our hands, leading us to give it the most flexible torsional rigidity score of 1 out of 5. Since stability isn’t really an issue with this shoe, this level of pliability is purely comfort-based as it allows the shoe to twist and contrast along with the natural movements of our foot.
Heel counter stiffness
The heel counter has a little more structure to it and thus gives a little more pushback against our manual manipulations. It’s still moderately flexible and earns a middle-of-the-road score of 3 out of 5.
In practical terms, this means that we can get a good rearfoot lockdown that is secure and somewhat firm but not too restrictive.
Midsole width in the forefoot
The Spezial feels quite minimal on the foot, and this is thanks in part to the narrower-than-average platform which is only 104.3 mm wide at the forefoot.
Midsole width in the heel
Conversely, at 78.2 mm wide, the Spezial’s platform is right within the average range for sneakers we’ve tested so far.
The Spezial is an extremely flexible shoe, requiring only 5.8N of force to bend it 90 degrees.
As such, it’s able to bend and flex along with our foot with almost no resistance. which factors greatly into the Spezial’s comfy and forgiving ride which makes it a pleasure to wear all day long. Even after extended periods of walking and being up on our feet, we still felt fresh and ready for more!
Grip / Traction
With its pedigree from the world of handball, the Spezial boasts an incredibly grippy outsole. The multi-directional tread pattern provides us with excellent traction over a variety of surfaces whether indoors or outdoors.
Size and fit
Toebox width at the widest part
The Spezial’s toebox is on par with our current lab average at 97.9 mm wide at its widest point. This should accommodate most foot shapes comfortably, though those with wide feet might find it a little snug.
Toebox width at the big toe
Moving up to the area around the big toe, the Spezial tapers to 73.9 mm wide which is a little narrower than our current lab average. Again, this isn’t ideal for those with broad feet for whom we recommend looking into the New Balance 574 as a roomier option.
Tongue: gusset type
The Spezial’s tongue is non-gusseted, so it has a tendency to move outwards slightly, though the ridged edges prevent it from sliding too far.
We measured the Spezial’s tongue to be 3.8 mm thick, making it less padded than our current lab average.
Nevertheless, we were able to lace up the shoe securely and comfortably without the laces feeling too apparent across our instep.
The Spezial doesn’t have a heel tab per se, but the heel itself flares upward in a way that’s conducive to holding onto as we slide the shoe on.
The Spezial’s insole isn’t glued in and can therefore be replaced with custom orthotics if necessary.
Don’t expect any added nighttime visibility as the Spezial doesn’t feature any reflective elements whatsoever.